Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Ashy Or Classy?!? - Redbone Precious.

When actress Gabby Sidibe rose to prominence after her breakthrough performance in the movie Precious, many wondered what exactly could she do for an encore. It's not like there's a million and one other scripts about overweight, molested ghetto girls just floating around Hollywood. Would she somehow be able to capitalize on her fame, or would it ultimately prove fleeting?

Sidibe has managed to keep herself employed, playing a high school student on Showtime's The Big C, a show I really like, although he's really just playing a supporting role. She's also graced the covers of plenty of magazines, including the current issue of Elle, which is drawing some complaints.
In the world of American fashion magazines, women of color have notoriously been underrepresented, pretty much since the birth of print. Ditto the plus-size population, who go almost entirely absent from the pages of big-name publications, as if they don't exist. So it was a boon for both groups this summer when ELLE magazine announced that full-figured African-American actress Gabourey Sidibe would grace the cover of its 25th anniversary issue.

For its special October edition, ELLE produced four separate covers, each one meant to celebrate a different mid-20's female star--in addition to Sidibe, 27, it included actresses Amanda Seyfried and Megan Fox and reality star/fashion entrepreneur Lauren Conrad. But here's where things got tricky:

While each of the other three (all oft-used, not to mention skinny and Caucasian) cover girls are shown off in full-body glamour shots wearing stylish clothes, Sidibe is cropped at the mid-chest, with a swath of ruched green fabric hiding her curvy frame. Plus, her skin appears to be lighter than in most photos of the actress we've seen, which has stirred reactions on the Web.

This is the first big fashion magazine cover for Sidibe, who became famous last year after an Oscar-nominated turn as an abused teen in the Oprah-backed film "Precious." Since then, she's received raves for her appearance on "Saturday Night Live" and a new role in the Showtime drama "The Big C." Similar claims about skin lightening were made in 2008 about the possible whitening of Beyonce's face for a L'Oréal Paris ad and in 2009 for an ad with Indian actress Freida Pinto. For their part, the folks at ELLE deny any dramatic lightening or retouching of their cover girl.
I wanna get all worked up over this one, but I really can't. Seriously, this is just what high fashion magazines do. They consistently present one ideal of beauty. When they make a rare exception, they still try and shoehorn the subject into that very same ideal of beauty. It just is what it is. Not that I'm much of an authority on the subject, but I do grocery shop, so I've got some point of reference.

Yeah, they lightened Sidibe's skin. They also slimmed down Kelly Clarkson and lightened up that Indian chick from Slumdog Millionaire. Everyone's eventually gotta be thin and pale, despite how much Photoshopping it takes. These are pretty much the rules.

Is it racist? Sorta kinda, I guess. Is it worth getting worked up over? Nah, not really.

Question: Ashy Or Classy?!? Did Elle magazine doctor up Sidibe's photo, and if so, is that racist or just standard operating procedure?!?

Was Gabourey Sidibe's skin lightened for the cover of ELLE? [Yahoo!]

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